Base Camp is where visitors go to relax, unwind, and get familiar with an anthology of earlier material.

Rising To The Occasion

Ash cloud in the north, oil spill in the Caribbean, nuclear radiation leak in Japan, and no damn way to deal with any of them. At their total mercy, as we stand.

Question: when the game gets serious and the scales grow, shouldn’t our response capacity grow accordingly?

The question is rhetorical. The answer self-evident. And sarcastic. Sarcasm aside, our situation is not good. We’re slipping behind our accomplishments, playing catch up with our innovation and creativity, all on account of poor planning and an incomplete sense of what we’re getting ourselves into.

The facts speak for themselves. We’re unprepared to deal with any given emergency on a global scale should it occur – as they frequently do – suffering dire and deadly consequences as a result. Our global expansion and the way we go about it is akin to taking a knife to a cannon blitz and feeling surprise at getting leveled.

The last calendar year drove the point home. From volcano ash to oil spills, to the Fukushima nuclear fallout, we’re unable to rise to the challenges, stumbling where the benefits give way to emergency. We know how to sow and reap, but not how to maintain and control.

This won’t do. If we’re to go global, we have to get serious and raise the standards, our whole game. We can’t reap on a global scale yet fix and safeguard on a Joe Schmoe level. It’s like building a space rocket and using spit and clay for maintenance. Or like building a gargantuan mechanism of drills and hydraulics to pump oil from the bowels of the earth, out in the deep sea – and using boats with hair-filled filters to scoop the leak up. Or like building nuclear plants where we split atoms to pieces and then try to put out the overheating nuclear reactors with water sprayed from canisters hanging from helicopters.

Sound ridiculous? There’s more. How about the creation of a global system of air transportation and commerce, upon which the whole economy depends, a system choked to paralysis by a freak ash cloud from a volcano explosion, the reaction to which is an emergency meeting of key nations and corporations to set aside emergency funds to develop technology that will deal with future ash discharge? Only the meeting in question doesn’t take place. Nothing of the sort is done, no measures are taken to tackle an ash cloud should the volcano erupt again.

Hold on a minute. How does one contain an ash cloud? That’s impossible, surely!

Or some would have you think. It sounds impossible to them – as impossible as it once was to sail into the Atlantic to find land! As ridiculous as getting this crazy idea that we can make vehicles fly, or build machines that compute a gazillion bits of information a second, or developing technologies that split the atom and peer into deep space, dive to the bottom of the sea, shoot electromagnetic waves across wire networks and light up our homes at night. Things that couldn’t be done in a million years. As impossible as merging the phone with the computer and camera in a hand-held device, as outrageous as technology that lets people to operate machinery with their minds, and come up with blue pills that enable men to have day-long erections at the age of eighty.

Ridiculous as they sound, these things are reality. Some people got together and put money down and came up with a plan on how to make them work. Because they were deemed possible.

So what’s stopping us from devising machines that can tackle volcanoes, tsunamis and oil spills? What’s stopping us from going truly global? If not for the sake of the ecology, for the sake of the economy. For the sake of the life we envisioned for ourselves and the progress we laid out.

If our dicks are rising to the occasion with the aid of technology, shouldn’t we?

There are various reasons why this isn’t happening.

One is greed and selfishness. Cliché but true. People want to get as much as they can for themselves without worrying about the bigger picture.

Another reason is disorganization. We’re too loosely integrated to mount effective damage control strategies on the global level.

How about small? That’s it, we think too small. We start off big but get sidetracked down the line, ending up satiated and jaded, thinking tiny, for ourselves, for our hide, for our precious bottom line. Which is fine because a bottom line determines the success and sustainability of an enterprise – but that’s as far as it goes. There’s nothing to stretch our ability to innovate beyond the disorganized litter of competitive marketeering/profiteering/semi-sophistication.

You see, free market competition may be great in starting the race off, spawning wonders and miracles, but it keeps things incomplete, stalling them halfway between mark and finish line. Once underway, innovations and technology turn self-serving and get caught inside a loop of economic self-fulfillment whose sole purpose is to serve its own purpose and do what it does to serve a bottom-line market. The Globe’s needs as a whole aren’t taken into account, giving rise to issues that we could have done without, had we planned properly, on a global scale.

It’s a problem when considering the fact that at some point in time the Economy will have to stop serving itself and start serving the Globe, much more than it does now. There would be no need for this to happen had we not reached a stage of finite resources and closed loops, such as climate, pollution, disease, recycling, limited space etc. But the bubble has burst, we’ve reached the stage where every movement and initiative must be accounted for. Every development from now on has to not only compete and remain profitable, but also to subtract from the problem, or not add to it, at least, It must work and contribute in ways that open up the field. It must find ways to come together so that problems that threaten the global society and its world-wide webs of information, transportation, communication, energy supply, nutrition and safety are tackled and solved, or at least minimized, until better and more lasting solutions to the problems at hand are found.

As things stand, this seems possible but not very likely to happen, not in the near future. After all this time, with so much competition and innovation under our belts, having achieved space exploration and the splitting of the atom and the assembly of sophisticated grids of communication and supply, we still haven’t gotten our minds round the global scale and all that it entails. We need a greater vision for this to happen, one that will fill out our horizons and give us the scope necessary to tackle the way ahead.

It’s time we evolved again: in body, mind and spirit, finding ways to live up to the technological and societal miracles we have put in place, making sure we can keep up. Time we grew something more than wings, gills, scales of commerce, all-encompassing spreadsheets and fancy derivatives. We need something to fit the times: a vision, a determination that meets and matches our ginormous aspirations so that we may build an infrastructure that sustains our dreams, not to mention the projects already in place.

Fish grew legs once. Humanity need legs, too, for our grand visions and ideas, and to grow legs we need to grow perspective.